Some things just don't photograph well....like me...and most Mexican and Indian dishes

This enchilada recipe is inspired by my friend A, who lives in Arizona. Remember her guest post on phantom erections!? I call these dirty because the enchilada sauce includes rich cocoa. With black beans, kale and sweet potatoes, this dish is something that would come out of A’s kitchen. Also, please note that when I made them, I was so hungry that I made the filling and then decided to ditch the last step—rolling them in tortillas and baking them! You can feel free to skip the last step too. I find, especially when cooking for just myself, I often get impatient and lazy and skip over fancy, complex steps that I would follow diligently if I were cooking for a guest. Also this recipe is gluten-free, because my gorgeous friend A is allergic to that jank!

Please note you need to make the enchilada sauce first.

Arizona Enchiladas
Prep time: 10 minutes/ Cook time:  40 minutes/ Serves: 4-5

You will need:

For the filling:
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, baked and cubed
- 1 ½ cups cooked black beans
- 1 large bunch of kale, washed and torn into small pieces
- 2 tomatoes, washed and chopped
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 lime
- 2 tbsp Earth Balance
- Your favorite gluten-free corn tortillas

For the sauce:
(Makes 2  ½ cups)
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil
- 1 tablespoon rice flour (or your fav gluten-free flour alternative)
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 2 cups veggie broth
- 10 oz can organic tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt

Quick tip: If you are planning to go bake the enchiladas and not just eat the filling like this lazy vegan, pre-heat your oven to 350 while you make the filling.

Directions for Sauce

Step one
Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Step two
Stirring constantly, slowly add ½ cup veggie broth to make a thin paste.

Step three
Pour into saucepot or pan and add rest of broth

Step four
Simmer  over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.

Step five
Stir in tomato paste, simmer 3-4 more minutes and remove from heat. Set aside.

Directions for Filling

Step one
Heat a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add the Earth Balance, wait until it has melted,  and add onion. Sauté until translucent, approximately 5- 6 minutes.

Step two
Add sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes and all spices.  Stir, and then add half of your enchilada sauce. Cook, uncovered, 5-6 minutes until everything is well incorporated.

Step three
Add kale and cover to let steam, 2-3 minutes or until leaves are bright green. Don’t overcook!

Assembling:
Assemble your enchiladas by placing ½ cup (more or less depending on size of your tortillas) and rolling. Assemble rolled tortillas (stuff them in there! Hard and deep! ) in a baking dish and pour the rest of your enchilada sauce over the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. Pull out, squeeze your lime on top, and enjoy!

Okay tell me your dirty enchilada tips!

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Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Mmmm, kale for breakfast! No? Well you should be. It’s harder for me to get my daily raw greens in the winter, when it’s cold and wet outside and I naturally crave warm, spicy food.  So a kale smoothie in the morning guarantees a serving before I even get my toes out the door. Here is my winter kale smoothie. I warn you that this is not a hide-your-veggies type of smoothie; it tastes like kale. Follow the optional substitution suggestions if you want a sweeter drink.

Serves 2/Prep Time 5 minutes/Cook Time 2 minutes

2 cups cleaned chopped kale
1 ripe banana
1 apple, roughly chopped
1  cup coconut water
* Optional Substitution: if you want a sweeter smoothie, sub 1 piece fruit (pear, apple, etc..) for 1 cup kale, or add 2 teaspoon agave. Personally, I like the kale flavor.

Step one
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until incorporated. Some pulsing may be necessary. Kale can be pretty cantankerous.

Step two
Pour into a glass and enjoy. That’s all folks!

So how do you enjoy your kale? And check out more ways I eat kale on www.iEatGrass.com, the awesome pop-vegan culture site put out by Ayinde Howell, the brilliant vegan chef who made me the best  pancakes, veg sausage and Mac-N-Yease this weekend. You da best, Ayinde! (I say that like the Italian chef from Lady and the Tramp, in case you were wondering.)

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This past weekend was an interesting blend of terrific and terrible. My friend H and I took a road-trip to Ohio to surprise our friend, B. We set it up with B’s hubby, all sneaky-like. It wasn’t until we were ¾ of the way there that we thought, hmmm, I hope she wants to see us and isn’t pissed we dropped in for the weekend unannounced. Whoops!

When B got out of her car after work, we popped out and verbally assaulted her, demanding she “get in our van,” an inside joke left-over from college about a friend who hooked-up with a (male) basketball player dressed as a golden girl inside a Campus Cleaner’s van. Nothin’ sexier than a dude wearing a dress and bonnet in a van full of laundry. There was obnoxious squealing and hugging and lots of jumping up and down.

The weekend was awesome, and the car ride home was peaceful—right until I reached my driveway where  some maniac plowed into the side of my car and totaled it. Oh, I wish I was kidding. A 9 hour drive home to get plowed pulling into my apartment.

The only thing I like better than surprises and getting plowed  (sorry) is new eateries. We checked out the Tree Hugger’s Café,  in Berea, which isn’t a completely vegan place but has a plethora of veg-centric options. Everything was delicious, and they served us carafes of chilled water with nasturtiums floating inside, so extra points for presentation.

I will tell you that the food-porniest bit of the meal was the plate of sweet potato fries we split. Sweet potato fries are my go-to indulgence, and these were so good we ate the entire plate before we realized perhaps a picture was in order. (Food blog fail, per usual.) They were dusted with cinnamon sugar, hot and crisp and inhaled in .5 seconds to a symphony of moans because all three of us are pretty enthusiastic eaters.

H and I both had what they called a ‘protein wrap’ (I’ll give YOU a protein wrap…) which was beans, brown rice, sprouts, avo and veggies rolled up. It was served with a side of raw kale salad which made me happy as I have been on a kale kick. The kale was dressed simply and mixed with diced tomato and kalamata olives. The wrap was good although it was definitely something I could have come up with easily on my own.

Here's the kale it never fails it makes me want to wag my tail...

B ordered a black bean burger which looked fantastic but I couldn’t tell you for sure because she had some cheese on there. Normally the burger is served on a pretzel roll, but B ordered it on italian herb bread because I think the idea of a burger wrapped in a pretzel scared her a bit.

Pretend there is no cheese. Then it's vegan. Shhh.

After we finished the savory we split a peanut buttery fudgy brownie and we legitimately had to cut it into sections before we ate it because we didn’t trust each other not to fight with our forks. It was rich in the most satisfying way; the best part was the layer of creamy peanut butter fudge. There was crumb tonguing.

Ohhhhhh yeah.

We liked our meal so much we ordered MORE food to take home and eat for dinner. Kale salad twice in one day makes me a very happy lady indeed, even on a cold day because Ohio is fffffffrigid.

It bothers me that the accent mark on the e in cafe has fallen, making it appear all weird and awkwardly posessive. Yargh.

Have you been to the Tree Hugger’s Cafe? How do you eat your kale? Ever driven 9 hours to surprise someone you love? Wanna rant about terrible drivers or console me for the loss of my beautiful new Honda Fit, who I called Sexy Sadie? Leave it in the comments.

Sadie and me, in a post road trip euphoria back in October. Le sigh.

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Someone isn't getting enough b12!

Following a vegan diet can have a plethora of health boons. If done correctly, these benefits can include lowered cholesterol, lowered risks for certain cancers and  diseases like cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and diabetes. The diet can aid weight loss, bolster energy levels and sex drive and reduce depression. Eating a vegan diet and following a vegan lifestyle (supporting nothing that has come from or been tested on animals) is environmentally friendly and can reduce your carbon footprint. Of course, there will always be opposing viewpoints to any lifestyle, and if not done correctly, a vegan diet — like any diet— can have some serious tolls on the body and mind.

A vegetarian for the past 7 years, and a vegan for going on 1 1/2, I considered myself to be pretty healthy. I love vegetables and pile

Leafy greens, like Kale, are rich in b12 and iron

my plate high with greens, whole grains and protein daily. I thought I was doing pretty good. I had a bottle of b12 supplements, but I only took them when I remembered, which sometimes was less than once a week. An avid runner who likes to practice yoga and eat endless amounts of swiss chard, I felt like I was pretty healthy.

A few months ago my right hand began occasionally going numb. The first time it occurred I happened to be running, and ended up attributing it to that. No biggie. When my feet started tingling and going numb occasionally throughout the day, I blamed it on the fact that my job requires me to sit at a desk 6-8 hours a day. Could be worse. It wasn’t until a scare I had last weekend that I would admit something was seriously wrong.

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